ALBINA 4th c.. Current prosopographical studies distinguish two 4th-c. personages with the name of Albina. The first d. 393 is, according to Jerome, a widow originally from an illustrious family of consuls and prefects who dedicated herself to perpetual chastity and the ascetic life, refusing a second marriage after the death of her husband Ep. 127, 1-4. She is the mother of Marcella and came to know Jerome at Rome in 382, quickly winning his confidence, so much so that he thought her worthy of becoming his spiritual mother Ep. 32, 5. She frequented the circle of women of the high aristocracy who had been converted to Christianity and accompanied Jerome to the Orient in 385. Told of her death, probably at Rome in 393, Jerome wrote a eulogy to her before finishing his Commentary on Galatians. The other Albina b. before 385, d. 431, whom Augustine calls famula Dei Ep. 124, is the sister of Rufius Antonius Agrypnius Volusianus and daughter of Ceionius Rufius Albinus prefect of Rome, 389- 391, a pagan. She married a Christian senator, Publicola, son of Melania the elder; to them was born Melania the younger. In 400 Albina was convinced by her mother-in-law, who had come to Italy from Jerusalem, to live a more radical Christianity. From that moment she began an ascetic life with her daughter, distributing her goods to the poor, especially after the death of her husband in 407. During that year she went to Nola for the celebration of the feast of St. Felix, where she met Paulinus, who praised her virtue. With the arrival of Alaric 410, she went to Africa with her daughter Melania and son-in-law Pinianus and had contact with some African bishops such as Augustine of Hippo, Aurelius of Carthage and Alypius of Thagaste. She used the proceeds of the sale of her property in Africa to benefit the founding of monasteries, especially the two monasteries of Thagaste. The difficulties that arose during the oath of Pinianus at the basilica of Hippo in spring 411 notwithstanding, Augustine considered her always worthy of respect and affection, writing: “It is right fo me to console rather than to increase the sorrows of your soul which, as you have written, you are unable to express, in order to cure you of your suspicions if it is possible for me to do so instead of further disturbing your holy heart, consecrated to God, by voicing indignation over what I have suffered in this matter” Ep. 126, 1. In 417 she left for Palestine, making a stop at Alexandria, where she was received by the bishop Cyril and listened to the teaching of the abbot Nestoro. She arrived at Jerusalem, from where she informed Augustine on the events regarding Pelagius; Augustine responded by dedicating to her, Melania and Pinianus the De gratia Christi. She distributed what remained of her goods to the poor, dedicating her life to works of charity until her death in 431; she was buried on the Mount of Olives. Albina was part of the generation of the first women of the Roman aristocracy converted to Christianity. One sees in her, as in many other women of the period, how the worldly life was supplanted by the religious life.
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